Jonathan Bernier to Toronto Maple Leafs: “Show Me the Money” (Updated)


Jonathan Bernier to Toronto Maple Leafs: “Show Me the Money” (Updated)

[Update: Bernier is seeking $5.1 million from the Leafs while the team has countered with an offer of $2.89 million. Both parties want a one-year deal. Check out this link for a good background piece on the whole arbitration process from start to finish.]

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Detroit Red Wings: Former netminder Jonathan Bernier retires
Detroit Red Wings: Former netminder Jonathan Bernier retires /

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  • The Toronto Maple Leafs and Jonathan Bernier are scheduled to have their arbitration hearing on Friday. There’s still a chance they could reach an agreement outside of arbitration, but that seems unlikely since the team, not Bernier, elected to take this route.

    Bernier is coming off a two-year, $5.8 million deal that he signed in the summer of 2013. He earned $3.4 million last season and under the CBA, that’s the minimum Bernier can earn this coming season; he’s protected against a drop to his base salary.

    It’s not entirely clear what type of money and length of term Bernier is seeking from the Leafs. We only know things remain “amicable” even though the two sides obviously disagree on the basics of a new deal. Some people have pointed to Braden Holtby‘s new deal with the Washington Capitals as a possible template for agreement, but the numbers don’t justify the comparison.

    Mar 14, 2015; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier (45) skates in warm up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    For one thing, Holtby’s never had a losing season in the NHL. Beyond that, he’s improved every year, culminating in a 41-20 record last season. His peripheral numbers for 2014-2015 were impressive, too: 2.22 GAA and .923 SV%.

    On the other hand, Bernier has regressed over his career from the highs of playing for the Los Angeles Kings to the lows of playing for the Leafs. Part of this is due to the quality of the team in front of him, but it also falls on Bernier as he’s part of that team. Thus, it’s no surprise that Bernier put together one of his worst campaigns last season: 21-28 record, 2.87 GAA and .912 SV%.

    A better comparison for Bernier might be found in teammate James Reimer. They have put up closer career numbers than the comparison between Holtby and Bernier. All three goalies, it should be added, are close in age around the mid- to late-20s.

    Holtby’s career numbers: 101-51 (178 games played), 20 SO, 2.44 GAA and .921 SV%

    Bernier’s career numbers: 76-67 (175 games played), 9 SO, 2.63 GAA and .916 SV%

    Reimer’s career numbers: 74-64 (175 games played), 11 SO, 2.91 GAA and .913 SV%

    If you ignore their contrasting numbers in the GAA department, Bernier and Reimer actually look fairly comparable. They have similar win-loss and total games played numbers, and the distance between them in terms of SO and SV% isn’t very great. Having said this, Reimer’s careers numbers belie the fact that he’s actually declined sharply over the last two seasons – seasons where the Leafs opted to play Bernier over Reimer on most nights.

    Mar 16, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) in action against the Edmonton Oilers in the second period at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Chris LaFrance-USA TODAY Sports

    I’m not in a position to say what Bernier can expect to receive through arbitration, but I’m fairly certain both Holtby’s and Reimer’s contracts will influence the talks at an implicit, if not explicit, level. Holtby’s numbers seem really high as a comparison for Bernier. Reimer’s numbers, in contrast, may seem low but they’re not out of the ballpark if you focus on how the two goaltenders compare on a career-wide basis.

    In any event, this is all for the arbitrator to decide. By electing arbitration, the Leafs have already committed themselves to re-signing Bernier. It’s now just a question at what cost.

    What are your thoughts? How much is Bernier worth? Is Holtby a fair comparison? What about Reimer? Should another young goalie factor into the conversation? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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